Recycle and Reuse - A Visit to the Wreckers Yard.


Yesterday I tagged along on a visit to a car wreckers yard just outside of Toronto. I was quite intrigued by the place when I'd been before, and I thought I'd probably notice more on a second visit.

These can be strange places if you're not used to them, and a little bit unnerving, at least if you're anything like me. Let me explain. I went with a few people from a car club and their main reason to go was to search for car parts to repair and embellish their older cars, or just out of curiosity. I was going to get abstract and texture photos, camera in hand (backpack, really).

It was a vast piece of land, covered in thousands of cars in various states of disrepair, and all without wheels. When I say disrepair, I mean usually smashed up to some degree. The interesting thing is that most of the cars are laid out almost like a showroom. They're in long rows so you can wander up and down the aisles. Each car sits on a concrete block, making it easy to walk around and reach in. Different brands have their own sections. The aisles, however, are mud and gravel with pools of rainwater you have to negotiate around. Best to wear your boots or wellies!

When I mentioned that I can find the place unnerving, that's because I stand there looking around wondering about the stories behind these broken cars. It's obvious some have been in bad accidents and others have even been burned but for many, it's just the end of their useful life as a whole car.  I mentioned to one of my group that smashed windscreens bother me because I'm assuming the car (with driver) had been in a bad crash. It was pointed out to me though that the windscreens often get smashed, and other damage is caused, by the moving equipment. It shows you how people see things differently and how you can often miss out on the obvious.

There were a number of people milling around, tool bag in hand. Some were looking for specific parts for their car repairs, some seemed like collectors and others looked like they were gathering various pieces, maybe for their own car repair businesses. The interesting thing here is that cars are often built now to stop people from doing their own repairs, but there are obviously ways around it . When I moved to Canada my first few cars were old Buicks that needed a lot of maintenance to keep them road-worthy. The maintenance was done by my husband and his dad. His dad had grown up on a farm in northern Ontario where people had to be self reliant and learn a wide range of skills, vehicle maintenance being one of them. Even replacing a transmission in the driveway was possible, until cars were increasingly computerized and sections made harder to reach.

In spite of the sight of this vast amount of metal waiting to be crushed and shipped off to a distant purpose it's good to see that parts can still be salvaged and reused on an individual level. 

And don't worry, in this big space it was easy for everyone to keep a safe distance and many wore masks even though it was outdoors.